Wanton Slaughter

Tobias Gumede got a call from his kids at his umuze out on the Makathini Flats north of Jozini: Three of his prize cattle have been slaughtered. Chopped with a bush knife, he says.

His wife Thulisiwe will be devastated. She runs the home very carefully based on her herd, always reluctant to sell an animal for cash, doing so only when really necessary.

He estimates the loss at over R10 000 per animal, as they were large ones. Thulisiwe will probably try and mitigate the loss by selling some of the meat and freezing some. Thank goodness for electricity and a fridge.

~~~oo0oo~~~

iNyanga vs EBM

On the way to Tobias Gumede’s umuzi north of Jozini on the Makathini Flats of the Pongola river floodplain, you pass a nyanga’s advertising billboard. He can sort out all your problems.

Not all his own, though, so he died and the new nyanga re-wrote the promises when we last went there.

Tobias’ home had also been upgraded. He’d added a covered entrance porch:

Leaving his home and continuing north you cross the Pongola where a magnificent old fig suffers the depredations of progress, erosion exposing its roots to a dangerous degree.

~~~oo0oo~~~

The new nyanga sign says (take my translation with a pinch of salt):

his gift we built

(can’t) stop

that which advances

the big (important) traditional doctor

~~~oo0oo~~~

April 2018: Tobias has just walked in. He has come to work straight from the hospital where they measured his blood pressure: 204 over 124! I sat him down and told him don’t move until that BP is down! So, much to his dismay, he’s under house arrest today. He has taken his muti and will take again tonight and tomorrow, then we’ll see if we can release him! But I’m fine! he protested, so I told him in gruesome detail what high BP can do to you, with a graphic artistic demonstration when I got to the ‘fall down dead’ stage. ‘Twas a powerful performance.

Glad he didn’t see the nyanga. I’m an EB Medicine Man. Evidence-Based Medicine EBM.

Later: I bought a supply of his two tablets and kept them at home with strict instructions: If you forget to take your tablets at home, take them here. Never miss! Yebo baba.

March 2020: On his last day before the COVID-19 lockdown I gave them to him to take home. Now it’s April 2021 and he assures me he takes them faithfully. I once again asked him, When you hear a man has suddenly died, what usually killed him? He couldn’t answer right away and I prompted him and he remembered. Oh yes! The ‘PRESSURE.‘ Yep, Take Your Pills, I droned.

~~~oo0oo~~~

On the Grid – and YAY!!

It’s 2017 and Tobias Gumede has electricity in his home at last! This Friday he switched on the fridge he bought many years ago – and it worked!

He’s here:

Jozini Map

Here’s a pic of his home the last time I saw it:

TobiasuMuzi

and a close-up of his environment:

Tobias Homestead map

A pre-paid meter has been installed and his wife Thulisiwe will top up her electricity card at the store a few km away, or on her trips to Jozini village.

Hats off to Thulisiwe! Imagine raising seven kids over twenty years before getting running water a few years ago – and now electricity! Here she is with Tobias and five of the kids. In the background as always:

DSCN8130

And now they have ugesi, isiZulu for electricity.

Celebration called for!

~~~oo0oo~~~

In 2019 he had a room added on the left side of the house as you see it in the pics. Then he bought a new fridge in Pinetown and had the store deliver it to the bus stop. The bus driver said ‘Sure, R60’ (his ticket was R130); then ‘No, not on top, INSIDE!’ So they fitted the fullsize fridge inside the bus and off Tobias went to Jozini. There he unloaded it and found one of his homies nearby who needed money and had a wheelbarrow. They loaded it up, he pushed while Tobias balanced it for the last few kilometres on the sandy road to his umuzi.

Thulisiwe was delighted, he says.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Less Abundant Herds

My man Tobias Gumede has lost seven of his herd, once twenty five-strong, in the drought. He lives downstream of the Jozini dam on the Makathini floodplain on the right bank of the Pongola river. Not on the riverbank, but some kms away.

His son Mpilo is his herdsman and the poor fella is certainly putting on mileage as the cattle venture ever-further in search of grazing. Lately where they have found grazing there’s no surface water, so every few days they turn round and head off near home to drink. He gets home on average every third night for a meal and a bed, leaving early the next day to get back to the cattle wherever they are.

That’s when you really have to know your cattle as there are no fences and they can mingle with anyone else’s herd. Good thing Marguerite Poland recorded all the names of the coat patterns and horn shapes, and good thing her cousin Leigh Voigt painted them!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Winter – Now his son is home without the cattle. They have not been seen for weeks. They have headed off on their own.

October – The rains have arrived at last. The cattle are home again. Tobias estimates (he’s not good with exactness) they’re down to just eleven in number.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Softie

I’m off on a four-day weekend to Ndumo, abandoning the kids. Charles and Barbara Mason have very kindly invited me on their regular annual trip.

Leaving for school today, Tom spots we’re alone, no-one in earshot.

Gives me a big hug, leans his head against my chest, “I’m going to miss you Daddy. Don’t get hurt.”

Then he looks me in the eye with a grin, “Don’t get drunk, don’t get high, don’t get the munchies” he says and saunters off to school.

Ndumo was great. Dry but lots of birds around camp and the pans walks beautiful as always.

20150817_064220

Special sights:  Skeins of gyppos and spurwing overhead; A thermal of pelicans soaring; Retz’s & white helmetshrikes, nicators, tinkers, honeyguides and honeybirds, a trogon, robins, apalii, ‘peckers, spoonbills wading, glossy ibis, lots of others.

A glimpse of a suni in the sand forest was special too. Lots of crocs, heard the hippos but didn’t see them.

There are seven huts at Ndumo and there were 14 people plus me, so friends Charles and Chris moved an extra bed into their bungalow, shipped their wives off to the next door chalet and there I was, the newly-minted pensioner among the established pensioners. And probly the best-behaved. This lot had known each other for far too long and were teenagers all over again. Dermott Beck from Bergville in the 50’s knew the Reitz’s and had been operated on under chloroform by Dr Frank Reitz in Harrismith – as had I some 12yrs later!

Luckily a lone lady camping in a pup tent on her way to Mocambique joined us – making me only the second-youngest in camp.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Pre-launch instructions

We are able to do

I finally managed to contact Ndumu main office on 035 591 0058 and spoke to Bongani as Mr Chris was off.

Also cell numbers (never answered!!!) 072 672 8508 and 082 799 1491

Bongani suggests that we bring our own water 5 – 10 litres per person / couple as they do not always have enough for sale – we are able to boil water for drinking if supplies run out.

We are able to do a Pongola bird walk, a pan walk to Shokwe or Njamithi, the rhino walk area has been very dry but depending on the rain situation we may be able to walk there.

Take comfortable shoes, hats, water bottle, sweets, binoculars, camera, bird, tree or flower books, reading matter

Cost of Landrover trip: R240

Cost of walks R120

Cost of trip in own vehicle with game guard +- ????

In the past we’ve tried to do at least an early morning and an evening game drive during our stay, but it is optional (usually one a day) or however many you wish to.

Enjoyable to do a walk a day.

It is also lovely to just sit in the camp and watch the birds.

Please bring your OWN TORCHES

Can stop at an Ultracity / or Mkuze for lunch if you wish on the Friday

The previous times we’ve been at Ndumu we worked in pairs overseeing the catering etc per day which enables us all to have ‘time out’.

We used to buy the food for everyone and costs were shared – but the past two times we allocated meals to the 4 people overseeing the catering per day and we all took different items. It worked well as we each have a fridge in our unit to store food.

There is a cook and washer up who are quite adequate – Jabulani and Ginger. If you prefer you could do some pre-cooking at home and the cook could do the rice / potatoes / vegetables / salad or whatever.

Those on duty need to give the cooks the meat / vegetable etc before we go off for walk or landrover trips in the afternoon. They need to be requested to make a fire on the ‘braai night’

Whoever is providing the dinner for the evening also provides the serviettes, dessert or chocolates and candles if so desired.

Lunches – simple – suggest either cold meat or tuna mayo / salad / rolls / cheese or whatever (can use ‘heat and eat’ breadrolls or ciabatta)

THANKS FOR PAYMENT RECEIVED AGES AGO

For 1 chalet for 2 people: Fri and Sat night R700 per night x 2 nights = R1400

Ditto Sun and Mon nights R560 per night x 2 nights = R1120

Total = R2520

ie per person for the 4 nights R1260 or per couple R2520

The cheaper 2 nights are with pensioners discount.

Not sure if anyone has arranged to go to Tembe Elephant Park after Ndumu or for a game drive whilst we are at Ndumu – distance from Ndumu probably 35 minutes travelling

Tel: 039 – 9732534 0826 512 868

Spoke to Claudette (Westville) 031 – 2670144 who does the accommodation bookings.

Info R35 per vehicle R30 per person if in 4 x 4 able to do a ‘self drive’ otherwise to book at least 24 hours before with Claudette –

Cost R800 for landrover / for 8 – 10 persons and R100 per person – would be met at the gate. Drive 11am – 2pm

HAVE A LOOK AT TEMBE WEBCAM OR ZULCAM ON THE INTERNET – BEST TIME BETWEEN 11AM AND 3PM WHEN THE ELEPHANTS ARE AT THE WATER HOLE.

Please – none of the above is cast in stone and we are all flexible and open to any other suggestions.

Many thanks,

Chris